An annotated synopsis of the views of Günther Anders on the question of “work” or “labor”, including numerous quotations from Anders published here in English for the first time (which the author claims “are undoubtedly among the most radical and best examples of the critique of labor that appeared during the 20th century”), along with many choice selections from his pithy observations regarding conformism, technology, “duty”, “the right to a job”, “the humanization of labor”, consumerism, television, sports, etc., which in many respects anticipate some of the ideas later advocated by Guy Debord and the situationists.
In this 2004 article, Robert Kurz discusses the condition of “simultaneity” caused by the concluding phase of the discontinuous “catch-up modernization” of the world’s nations that culminated in “the constitution of the transnational structures of capital” in which the traditional workers movement and leftist politics, inseparable from the national form of capitalism and its “Enlightenment ideology”, have been rendered obsolete and ineffective, and asserts that critique “must become more profound and must understand the repressive assumptions behind these concepts instead of demanding the realization of their ideals” (“nation, political regulation, bourgeois recognition”).
In this 1953 article from the “Thread of Time” series, Amadeo Bordiga addresses the role of the great man or “man of destiny” in history, whose modern representatives he calls “Guignols” (grotesque puppets)—devoid of individuality, vacuous, two-dimensional receptacles for the cult of personality—from Napoleon to Eisenhower, and situates this phenomenon in the context of the historical materialist doctrine of Marx and Engels as expounded in the latter’s text, Ludwig Feuerbach and the End of Classical German Philosophy.
In these 26 theses presented at the Milan Meeting of the International Communist Party in 1952, Amadeo Bordiga sets forth his conception of the “invariance” of Marxism, utilizing colorful examples from the histories of religion, mythology, ideology and science as well as the class struggle, denouncing “modernizers” (he says they are worse than Stalinists) “weasel assumptions”, “foolish clichés”, “bourgeois prejudices”, “aberrations”, and “nonsense”, and everything that stands opposed to the “common doctrine of the party, uniform, monolithic, and invariable, to which we are all subordinated and bound, putting an end to all chattering and know-it-all discussions”.
An examination of the history and significance of the concept of “progress”, its origins as an expression of the Enlightenment’s battle against religious bigotry and ignorance, its transformation into a “new [scientific] superstition” characterized by indifference to nature and the worship of technological change, and its current status as “a threat to the survival of the human species”.
A provocative introductory essay by the author of Impasse Adam Smith that maintains that the Left, “which has always presented itself … as the sole legitimate heir of Enlightenment philosophy”, with its “religion of ‘Progress’”, “nourished on exactly the same philosophical sources as modern liberalism”, is not only alien to the spirit of the original socialism of the early 19th century, but is also intrinsically incapable of constituting a real challenge to contemporary capitalism, and that “the requirements of a coherent battle against the liberal utopia … render a radical break with the intellectual imaginary of the Left politically necessary”.
In this 1997 essay, contemporary educational reform is offered as an illustration of not only the destructive effects of capitalist modernization, but also of the ambiguity of a “libertarian” concept of progress (exemplified by “the recuperable side” of May ‘68) that often only serves to facilitate and justify capitalism’s elimination of traditional structures of human society (customs, family, etc.) that once shielded humanity from the noxious effects of the ongoing realization of capitalism’s “negative utopia” (an “anthropological impossibility”) that reduces humans to “monads” of “enlightened self-interest”.